JumpCloud versus AD + Okta + Jamf

Written by Brandon White on September 17, 2020

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To solve core access control and software system management challenges, IT administrators have been finding and implementing add-on solutions for years now. A software “add-on” is a third party program or script that is used to extend the features and or functionality of a system – either on-premises or cloud-based. 

In this new era of cloud IT management tools, many IT professionals compare JumpCloud® with Microsoft® Active Directory® + Okta® + Jamf. And while layering add-ons to on-prem solutions (such as AD) does offer IT organizations some benefits, this often does not compare to the robust functionality of a single cloud-based access control system. 

Let’s discuss why IT admins consider layering AD + Okta + Jamf, the challenges with add-ons, and the best approach for access control and device management

Why IT Admins Layer Add-Ons

This approach of layering add-on software systems began in the early 2000’s, with the rise of cloud-based systems, or Software-as-as-Service platforms (SaaS). With this infusion of cloud-based tools, IT organizations needed to bridge legacy, on-prem systems with new SaaS systems. 

Virtually all IT organizations leveraged the on-prem identity provider AD to manage employee access and permission control. And while AD does offer IT admins centralized identity management (IAM), it works best in Windows®-centric environments. AD alone requires significant on-prem infrastructure to implement and maintain. As you can imagine, this becomes limiting for IT admins in terms of scaling identity management across their organizations. 

With the emergence of web applications, admins hunted for add-on tools to extend AD’s identities to web applications. 


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Layering AD + Okta + Jamf

With the rise in cloud-based IT tools, numerous single sign-on (SSO) vendors emerged. SSO software is an authentication tool that allows users to access multiple web applications with a single set of credentials. The goal is twofold: simplify the end user authentication process in a secure manner, and limit the work IT teams must do to centralize access management

Tools like Okta, OneLogin™, and many others began to hit the market. These SSO tools were intended to fill the need of bridging legacy AD and web applications. 

As the browser increasingly became the conduit to applications, end users started to choose alternatives to Windows, namely macOS®. The result was IT admins finding another add-on solution, a Mac® system management solution. This solution was often Jamf MDM — an Apple® device management solution. Jamf’s goal is to automate Mac-based device management for IT organizations, to ultimately enable end user productivity and ease of work. 

The adoption of these new IT management systems meant IT admins were forced to start layering tools like Okta and Jamf to their legacy AD systems. This layering prompts other comparisons as well, such as Jamf vs. Intune.

Further, IT professionals saw a big uptake in Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), cost-effective Samba-based file servers, WiFi and VPN networks, and more. To keep up, IT admins started to add-on even more solutions to AD. 

There’s no debate that this variety of IT management tools helps IT admins solve their pressing problems. However, software add-ons present another set of challenges. 

The Challenges with Layering on Add-Ons

The primary challenges with software add-ons is time consumption and expensive integration. Integration of add-ons places a major strain on your IT / sysadmin / developer resources as they need to become experts in individual tools. Often, integrating add-ons requires a skillset beyond most IT organizations, which then translates to costs such as professional services. 

Monolithic systems like AD are architecturally complex and therefore difficult to integrate. Additionally, from an IT perspective, each business unit views and uses data differently. System integrators then have to figure out how they can create a single view of each data set that will satisfy all users across an organization. 

Integration and costs aren’t the only challenges with add-ons. Here are three more concerns: 

  • Management – rather than just managing one software vendor, IT admins would have to manage three separate systems by layering AD + Okta + Jamf. The management of multiple systems adds a substantial amount of complexity to what’s already on your IT admin’s plate. 
  • Security – because each system is managed by a different vendor, there is an additional concern for security. More independent systems cause more exposure and thus there are more vulnerabilities that IT admins must find a way to secure. 
  • Ease of Use – layering multiple tools to a single system requires IT admins to learn how to use multiple systems rather than just one. Layering on add-ons hinders overall usability and brings unnecessary complexity to IT tool management. 

This dramatic shift to the cloud and its respective challenges of integration, tool management, security and usability have left many IT organizations wondering if there was a better approach to access control and device management.

The Best Approach to Access Control and Device Management?

The best approach for IT admins may just be a cloud directory platform. JumpCloud is dedicated to providing a comprehensive cloud access control and device management platform.

This modern approach eliminates the need to have Active Directory plus all of the numerous add-ons for web app SSO, MFA, system management / MDM, auditing/governance, and other needs. One key difference between JumpCloud and AD + Okta + Jamf is that our IAM platform lives entirely in the cloud and requires no infrastructure on-prem. The JumpCloud platform offers IT professionals centralized management over cross-platform system environments, web and on-prem applications, traditional and virtual storage solutions, and networks spanning multiple locations. 

The benefit of this approach is that IT admins can manage a wider range of IT resources with the cloud directory platform, while reducing costs and management overhead.To level up access control and device management across your organization, start with a demo or sign up for JumpCloud Free, with up to 10 users, 10 systems, and 10 days of Premium in-app chat support.

Brandon White

Brandon is an enthusiast, solutionist, and JumpCloud’s Technical Evangelist, active in journalism and IT in cities across the US for over 25 years. Pick his brain on Slack in the JumpCloud Lounge: http://ow.ly/seTs30qO7WX

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